Archive for October, 2007
Earlier I cited a study where entomologist Bob Reed notes, "We found that evolution is achieved primarily through recycling old genes into new functions, as opposed to evolving entirely new genes from scratch."
I then noted that this type of finding enhances our sense that the front-loading of evolution is plausible. How so? Well, imagine if the opposite state of affairs held. Imagine that Reed's research added to other research, allowing him to say, "We found that evolution is achieved primarily through evolving entirely new genes from scratch, as opposed to recycling old genes into new functions." In that case, the implausibility of front-loading would be enhanced.
Here's the list of the Top 10 most popular blog entries from October 2007.
Because of my privileged position within The Conspiracy, I was able to see the trailer for a new horror movie that will be marketed to critics of Intelligent Design. I can't post the trailer here for obvious reasons, but I transcribed it and it's below the fold.
Moreover, the intelligent-design (ID) movement imperils American global dominance in science and in so doing presents the gravest of threats to the American economy – John Brockman
So you have to ask yourself in light of all of these events, are we headed back to the past with no escape in the future? Are we trapped in a new period of history when science, once again, is in for the fight of its life? – Paul Costello
The genes that make a fruit fly's eyes red also produce red wing patterns in the Heliconius butterfly found in South and Central America, finds a new study by a UC Irvine entomologist…."We found that evolution is achieved primarily through recycling old genes into new functions, as opposed to evolving entirely new genes from scratch," Reed said.
Yes indeed, evolution is achieved primarily through recycling old genes into new functions, as opposed to evolving entirely new genes from scratch. That's one reason front-loading is plausible.
They have no place on an academic campus with their polemics hidden behind a deceptive mask. "“ SMU professor
According to Michael Behe's blog, Ken Miller has written a second review of Behe's new book, The Edge of Evolution. That Miller went to the trouble of writing a second review suggests Behe struck a nerve. Behe notes, "much of the second review turns on the theological implications of the book." Apparently, Miller raises the argument from evil, thinking that evolution somehow absolves God of any responsibility for malaria.
So there you have it. Miller (and Ayala) won't tolerate life on earth being designed because that would impugn God's reputation. Too many bad things inhabit the earth. They embrace Darwinism, at least in large part, for theological reasons.
Wow, and they say ID proponents get their conclusions from religious motives!
So, how to respond to such a position? The first thing to say is that it's very hard to see how the Miller/Ayala position gets God off the hook. The "byproducts of a fruitful and creative [Darwinian] natural world" that Miller alludes to are not simply byproducts "” they are deadly, dangerous, vicious byproducts. No matter if malaria were designed directly by God or indirectly by a sloppy process He put in motion, many children of mothers in malarious regions of Africa are going to be just as dead. There is going to be as much suffering in the world one way as the other.
Why couldn't a grieving mother justifiably demand of an infinitely powerful God that He explain why He chose such a sloppy process to make life, instead of a more efficient process that would not produce natural evils such as parasites and tsunamis? One that wouldn't cause such enormous pain? It seems to me that designing a poor Darwinian process that inevitably spins off natural evils leaves One as vulnerable to being sued for incompetence as directly designing them as finished products.
Since Miller raised the theological objections, I'd say that Behe has put the ball right back in Miller's court. The question that remains is this – will Miller ignore this argument and question? Or will he deal with it in his third review?
These events prompted me to take ID seriously, and this movement scares me. Now I feel like a jogger in the park at night who realizes that she is far too isolated and that the shadows are far too deep. At first I ignored that faint rustling behind me, convincing myself it was just wind in the leaves. Louder noises made me jump and turn around, but I saw nothing. Now I know that I and my colleagues in science are being stalked with careful and deadly deliberation. I fear my days are numbered unless I act soon and effectively. If you are reading this, the chances are that you are in the same position. – Pat Shipman
Taylor Kessinger has written a column complaining that Intelligent Design is a "unintelligent idea." Since it is always fun to see how the anti-ID memosphere would stack up against my ideas and position, I thought I'd kick back and have a look.
Joy posted the blog entry Stop the Presses! It's all Over! citing questionable news coverage of a paper published by researchers at the University of Manchester. The university's press release titled St Bernard study casts doubt on creationism contains two paragraphs which I'll quote and comment on. The first: